The forward to Not for Queen and Country
Public interest in military matters is such that most bookshops have a section devoted to military affairs. The range on offer varies from glossy coffee-table reference through anthologies of military writing to the biographies and autobiographies of famous commanders past and present. At least two shelves will be devoted to works concerning the Special Air Services some full of recycled fiction purporting to be fact, and others with dramatic titles that tell hair-raising stories – which the authorities back in Hereford would rather have remained untold. Presumably, it will not be long before the SAS Book of Flower Arrangement, The Special Forces Guide to Origami and the SBS Manual of Underwater Basket Weaving feature on some publishers list. The magic SAS acronym seems to sell books by the hundred- weight. It is a genuine pleasure therefore to read the account of an ordinary soldier who has done some extraordinary things. Edward Denmark joined the Army in 1980 as a Gunner and specialised in missile anti-aircraft defence. In this role, he protected me and my teams at Ajax Bay Field Hospital, Falkland Islands, in 1982. I can recall with gratitude the flaming wreckage of an Argentine Air Force Skyhawk falling into San Carlos water on 25th May having received a Rapier missile from T Battery (Shah Sujah’s) of 12 Regiment Royal Artillery up its tailpipe. We were equally pleased to be able to treat the pilot’s fractured knee following his successful, but very very low level ejection.
Edward Denmark went on to attempt parachute selection, which he failed due to illness, but which is reported honestly and directly here. This was followed by service in Northern Ireland which is also described with a vivid detail that makes it a genuine contribution to the often fanciful literature on that tortured province. The mainland British public is often reluctant to think too deeply on the subject of trouble over the water, but reading this will help to create more informed opinion – and perhaps make people realise that the freedoms they take for granted have been fought for in the past and are still worth fighting for now . . .
Rick Jolly OBE Surgeon Captain RN (Retired)